Trading beads

Our colourful early African Trade beads include Murano Millefiori trade beads produced between the 1880’s to the early 1900’s; the black and white Swirl Batik bone beads from Kenya and old large ceramic beads make a real impact.

African trade beads were made in Europe and transported to West Africa initially by Arab traders, overland from North Africa. From around 500 years ago, the European traders used beads as currency to purchase gold, ivory and palm oil on the trading routes from Europe to West Africa then onto the West Indies, before returning with produce from the plantations.These beads have played an enormous role in the culture, fashion, economy and artistic expression of the African people.